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Using Software in Qualitative Research

Using Software in Qualitative Research
A Step-by-Step Guide

Second Edition
  • Christina Silver - University of Surrey, UK, Qualitative Data Analysis Services, UK
  • Ann Lewins - Qualitative Data Analysis Services (QDAS)
Additional resources:

May 2014 | 384 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Using Software in Qualitative Research is an essential introduction to the practice and principles of Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis (CAQDAS). The book will help you to choose the most appropriate package for your needs and get the most out of the software once you are using it.

This book considers a wide range of tasks and processes in the data management and analysis process, and shows how software can help you at each stage. In the new edition, the authors present three case studies with different forms of data (text, video and mixed data) and show how each step in the analysis process for each project could be supported by software.

The new edition is accompanied by an extensive companion website with step-by-step instructions produced by the software developers themselves. Software programmes covered in second edition include the latest versions of:

  • ATLAS.ti
  • NVivo
  • QDA Miner
Ann Lewins and Christina Silver are leading experts in the field of CAQDAS and have trained thousands of students and researchers in using software. Reading this book is like having Ann and Christina at your shoulder as you analyse your data!
Qualitative Data Analysis and CAQDAS
The Nature of Software Support for Research Projects
Software Summaries
Data and Their Preparation for CAQDAS Packages
Early Steps in Software: Practical Tasks and Familiarisation
Exploration and Data-level Work
Qualitative Coding in Software: Principles and Processes
Basic Retrieval of Coded Data
Working with Coding Schemes
Managing Processes and Interpretations by Writing
Mapping Ideas and Linking Concepts
Organising Data by Known Characteristics
Interrogating the Dataset
Convergence, Closeness, Choice


Click for online resources

Free resources on the companion website:

  • Case study sample data
  • Step-by-step software guides for ATLAS.ti, Dedoose, HyperRESEARCH, MAXQDA, NVivo, QDA miner and Transana 
  • Illustrations from the book  

This book is essential reading for anyone navigating the complex and exciting terrain of qualitative data analysis software.  Silver and Lewins emphasize the importance of data preparation; being familiar with one’s software program before starting analysis; and being reflective, methodologically purposeful, and fluid in how one uses the available features of a given program.



Áine M. Humble
Mount Saint Vincent University
Áine M. Humble, Mount Saint Vincent University, Fada Research Consulting, Canada.

This is a timely update to the best volume of its kind. Christina Silver and Anne Lewins have brought their detailed and uniquely balanced account of the landscape of qualitative research, and the functions of software therein, into sharp contemporary focus. This is not only an invaluable practical guidebook for newcomers to CAQDAS, but also an essential reference text for the more seasoned qualitative researcher.

Paul K. Miller
University of Cumbria
Paul K. Miller, Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology, Department of Medical and Sport Sciences, University of Cumbria, UK.

The new edition is extraordinarily authoritative and seriously useful, detailed yet unfailingly interesting.  It brings methodological goals and software possibilities  together in a more accessible and lively way. With thorough and practical website resources it will be an essential reference for anyone wondering about software use - and that of course is everyone doing qualitative research.! It confronts the reader firmly with the challenges and complexities of qualitative work and the power, mixed offerings and sometimes considerable limitations of existing software. It's so carefully written, and the authors' voices are so clear, that it encourages, steadily explains and assists. The authors' enthusiasm and unique experience and knowledge of the field shine through, so against all odds for such a technical work, this book is a bloody good read!

Lyn Richards, Centre for Applied Social Research, RMIT University
Centre for Applied Social Research, RMIT University

This book is recommendable for all researchers and practitioners in different scientific fields – psychology, sociology, literature, etc. – for all who deal with qualitative and mixed methods for data processing, interpretation and presentation. 

Stanislava Yordanova Stoyanova

This publication is an impressive and exhaustive undertaking (with a book, three data sets consisting of many different types of data, and detailed instructions for seven CAQDAS programs), particularly given the depth, breadth, and ever changing nature of this field. The authors are to be commended for tackling this very challenging topic... Researchers who choose to both immerse themselves in the book and take advantage of the online resources and related exercises will be richly rewarded.

Áine M. Humble, Mount Saint Vincent University, Canada
Forum: Qualitative Social Research

This is an outstanding introduction to an integral aspect of doing qualitative research using a range of software. Critical, engaging, challenging but ultimately informative and supportive.

Mrs Michele Fuller
Department of Education, Colchester Institute
June 11, 2020

Good guidance for qualitative analysis supported by software. Useful for researchers and students engaged in qualitative surveys.

Dr Krzysztof Dziekonski
Faculty of Environment & Technology, University of The West of England
July 20, 2018

Out of date and confusing. Several CAQDAS products are discussed side-by-side, so not easy to follow.

Mr Kenneth Anthony Wilkinson
Dept of Marketing, Ops & Digital Busin, Manchester Metropolitan University
February 15, 2016

A very useful introduction to the key software for qualitative data analysis. The focus is on introducing these tools in a practical & simplified way. I will be adding to my reading lists.

Mr Philip Russell
Department of Humanities, Tallaght Institute of Technology
May 4, 2016

Thorough and comprehensive, much updated since the the previous version, Title is accurate and appropriate; it is a step-by-step guide, essential reading for any student considering using software for analysis

Ms Vicky du-Caine
Centre for Educational Studies, Hull University
October 24, 2015

Christina Silver

Christina Silver, PhD, is a qualitative researcher and teacher of all the major CAQDAS packages, including ATLAS.ti, Dedoose, MAXQDA, QDA Miner, Qualrus, NVivo, and Transana. She manages the CAQDAS Networking Project, based at the University of Surrey, UK. The project provides information, advice, training, and ongoing support in different software programs designed to facilitate qualitative and mixed-methods analysis. Christina also undertakes research, training, and consultancy via her consortium Qualitative Data Analysis Services Ltd. and is the coauthor, with Ann Lewins, of Using Software in Qualitative Research: A Step-by-Step Guide ... More About Author

Ann Lewins

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ISBN: 9781446249734
ISBN: 9781446249727

SAGE Research Methods is a research methods tool created to help researchers, faculty and students with their research projects. SAGE Research Methods links over 175,000 pages of SAGE’s renowned book, journal and reference content with truly advanced search and discovery tools. Researchers can explore methods concepts to help them design research projects, understand particular methods or identify a new method, conduct their research, and write up their findings. Since SAGE Research Methods focuses on methodology rather than disciplines, it can be used across the social sciences, health sciences, and more.